I was somewhat upset to see the news that the estranged wife of the UK Prime Minister Marina Wheeler has been diagnosed with cervical cancer. (2)
I have more experience of cancer than most. I lost my best friends to cancer. I worked on a palliative care unit as a junior doctor and I saw a lot as a medical student. I have actually seen someone die of cervical cancer. With her written consent I can tell you that by her own admission she did not get her screenings done.
When I was a 4th-year medical student I attended a fantastic lecture by one researcher. He told us that if you invented the cancer screening programme now- given what we now know- it would never be brought it. There is one simple reason.
Those who attend well are the women at the lowest risk. Those who are at high risk never attend. It’s similar to school kids. The parents teachers need to see on parent’s evening never come. The parents who attend are those who the teachers do not need to see.
The commonest causative factor in cervical cancer is exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) and that is carried in human semen and other fluids. I remember that lecturer saying to us that this was discovered when it was found that celibate nuns didn’t get cervical cancer. Conversely, prostitutes who had many unprotected partners were at the highest risk.
What should women lookout for?
According to (3) in most cases, abnormal vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer.
This includes bleeding:
during or after sex
between your periods
after you have been through the menopause.
The UK vaccination programme
According to the UK government (4), all boys and girls between the ages of 12–13 are to be vaccinated against the HPV. I can’t commend this enough.
The UK screening programme
In the UK cervical cancer screening takes the following format. After the first sexual intercourse. Then one year afterwards, then every 3 years. In Germany, it’s every year but the improvement in mortality is only 1% better. The UK government decided that it’s not worth the extra effort for 1%.
How can women reduce their risk?
There are 3 things each woman should do. However they are not politically correct, I am not meant to say them- so I have done! Ensure she is fully vaccinated and if she is under 25 she gets vaccinated.
Attend screenings every 3 years.
Reduces the number of unprotected sexual partners.
If every woman does this then we can go a long way to closing the door on cervical cancer.
Let’s stop the cancer epidemic click here to get it
(1) What is a cervical screening test? | Cancer Research UK (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjuEYqQvb0E
(2) Marina Wheeler: Boris Johnson’s estranged wife reveals cervical cancer diagnosis https://news.sky.com/story/marina-wheeler-boris-johnsons-estranged-wife-reveals-cervical-cancer-diagnosis-11782669 (3) Symptoms-Cervical cancer https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms/
(4) Cervical screening: programme overview https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cervical-screening-programme-overview